Program move allows more opportunity for students to study food

Zachary Keener

Students will now have more opportunities to study the diverse food culture of Texas with the American studies department’s recent integration of Foodways Texas, a nonprofit that educates the community on the culture that surrounds food.

“As a subject, Foodways captures many aspects of food,” said Lisa Powell, an original collaborator for the program and a UT American studies alumna. “Foodways involves learning about what, why and how people eat, and the cultures surrounding the production, preparation and consumption of food.”

The Univeristy’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement helped get the program started through its incubator program by providing seed money. The nonprofit is also partnered with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Elizabeth Engelhardt, American studies department chair, said the move will make the program a more permanent resident at the University.

“It’s always been part of the University,” Engelhardt said. “The program proved over the past few years that it could be self-sustaining.”

Engelhardt said the purpose of the move was to allow the program to integrate with the University and open opportunities for students to study food.

“Being under American studies means that we’ll be able to build over time, train graduate students in food studies, undergraduates in food studies and expand the intellectual mission of the program,” Engelhardt said. “We don’t quite have [classes] mapped out yet, but already we have faculty members and graduate students who want to teach issues with food studies. … Our undergraduates will get to participate.”

Nutrition senior Jose Mendez said he would be interested in studying food culture at the University.

“I know other students who are interested in studying food,” Mendez said. “If there was a program to study food, I think that would be great to study different topics and different culture and their food.”

Powell said Foodways involves many members of the community, from production to delivery to consumption of food.

“Studying Foodways involves examining not only the food that gets put on the table, but also all the steps that were taken to grow/raise, harvest, clean, process, prepare and serve that food,” Powell said.

According to Powell, Foodways Texas provides interaction between those studying food and those who handle food everyday.

“Having Foodways Texas at the University helps to facilitate these types of interactions between students and those outside of the University,” Powell said.